A lawsuit has been filed in the Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick on Friday against the City of Saint John, with the plaintiff, Moosehead Breweries Limited, holding the defendant liable for misrepresentation and negligence.
The plaintiff’s action came after the city refused to allow Moosehead continued access to lake water — a key ingredient in the brewing of its products — in 2017 and forced the company to spend more than $1.6 million to adapt to the change in water supply enforced by the city.
Moosehead owns and operates a brewery located on Main Street in West Saint John. It relies upon water supplied by the city for its brewery operations.
According to court documents, Moosehead has relied specifically upon water supplied by the city and sourced from the Spruce Lake Reservoir since its inception, but it was notified in August 2017 that the city was transitioning the brewery’s water supply source from the lake to the South Bay Wellfield, which supplies well water.
Moosehead requested that the city maintain its water supply from a lake source, suggesting Loch Lomond Reservoir as an alternative if Spruce Lake is no longer a viable option.
“Moosehead emphasized that… its production process was formulated upon the chemical composition of lake water,” as stated in court documents. “Despite Moosehead’s repeated requests to access its water supply from Loch Lomond Reservoir, the City refused to entertain Moosehead’s requests in this regard.”
The water supply change was to take effect within two to three weeks after it was announced, which Moosehead says forced it to implement costly measures and changes under severe time constraints.
According to court documents, Moosehead was forced to buy and install an elaborate filtration system, associated equipment, and processing aids in an effort to counter the disruption to its brewing formulas caused by the minerals and compounds contained in the well water supply that did not exist in the former lake water supply.
In March 2019, the city announced that the South Bay Wellfield is not a sustainable water source, as stated in the court documents, and advised that Moosehead’s water supply would now be sourced from the city’s Loch Lomond Reservoir.
“The City’s complete reversal of its Water Supply Transition Initiative and its announcement that Moosehead’s water supply would again be derived from a lake source rendered Moosehead’s substantial investment… completely unnecessary and entirely worthless,” Moosehead said in the court document.